Resources for ESPM4295, GIS in Environmental Science and Management are found on the linked Moodle course page
Materials, Organized Chronologically

Sept 5 - Building Skills

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Introduction, Class Mechanics, Coordinate
Systems & Datums

Read and understand the Student Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity

In class, sign up for one of the project areas on the St. Paul Campus (sheet will be passed around during class period)

Visit NGS Datasheet website, download control sheet for 4 of the Larpenteur NGS point, A through D (PIDs PP3177 through PP3181)

Activate the MNGEO web mapping service (WMS) in ArcMap (see video "Using WMS" in the Resources column, to right, inspect campus area for NGS points on Larpenteur, and the Campus project area you were assigned. The address for the WMS is, but you should read the general MNGEO WMS specification and site for a description of the images. We're in Ramsey County.

Read the Semester Project Description, to get an idea of what we're heading for over the next 15 weeks.

All assignments due on Moodle, unless specified otherwise

By end of Wednesday, Sept 7
1) Sign up for Study Area

Course files are on the L:\ drive accessible from the computers in 35 Skok Hall, under the CFANS\LABS\ESPM4295W directory. Below we'll refer to the subdirectory as CLD for "Course Lab Drive"

How to access lab files via VPN

How to Zip/Unzip

Using WMS

2016 Area Assignment Map

Checking GPS Equipment out from Green Hall

Sept 12

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

GPS accuracy

Overview GPS Slides

Overview PFO Slides

NSSDA Overview Slides

Skills - GPS accuracy exercise

Before or during class on Monday, Sept. 12th, you should collect, download, and differentially correct GPS data at least one of the Larpenteur Base Points. During this week collect, correct, and export 3 total (working individually) or 6 total (working in pairs) of the control points. If you collect field data in pairs, members should take turns with the equipment, and must collect two points each. After download, each person should do their own differential correction and processing. Fill in the NSSDA spreadsheet (blank downloadable here, and handbook here, and on lab drive under Skills/GPS/NSSDA), and turn it in. NOTE that you should check the calculated RMSE values, because of the way the spreadsheet is written, the calculations may be incorrect depending on how you enter your data. This is a good example of needing to verify the accuracy of a downloaded utility.

If you do not have all points collected and differentially corrected by the deadline, you're behind schedule, but turn in and do the NSSDA spreadsheet with those that you have.

You should also read the "General Guidelines for Writing" and the "Writing Hints" pdfs in the CLD\Writing directory, as you'll be submitting several reports in this class. Your first report is on your GPS accuracy exercise next week, with guidance on length and content in the exercise instructions, linked above.

PDFs (listed here because otherwise the column at right gets too tall)

Monday before class (10:30 a.m.):
Turn in PDF of NGS point data sheets

Files in CLD\Skills\GPS


Sept 19 

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

Integrating Image and GPS collected data

Skills - Integrating GPS and Image Data

You often have access to orthographic aerial photographs across a range of resolutions and dates. For example, the USGS provides high resolution aerial photography for built-up areas, and the USDA takes annual 1m resolution color and sometimes color infrared photographs for most of the country. This week you'll collect data for your on campus study area from aerial photographs and GPS, and integrate them.

Display and view the two sets of photos available for this class on the class L drive, in the CampusImages folder. There are two UAV/drone based photos, CampusNov2015 and CampusNov2016, and a HiRez_## set of images, from 2006. We provide all of these because buildings lean in different directions, and the November images still have some trees with leaf on, so different sets of ground features are obscured on the different images, but you have a better chance of all features if you look across several images.

You need to digitize a point layer of the storm sewer drains.

Some of you will also have to digitize a polygon layer of the centers of stormwater ponds, wetlands, rain gardens or any other constructed rainwater infiltration or depressions in your project area, if they exist.

You should start in the lab, digitizing on-screen, and then verify your sewer grates by visiting all or most of them in the field.  You should also perform an accuracy assessment of the digitized grate locations using GPS. Use ArcMap to digitize all the features you can see in the images, and visit at least 10 using GPS. You'll need to differentially correct and export the GPS data as before. This time, the GPS data will serve as your "truth," and the coordinates from points digitized on the image as your test data.

Note that the HiRez_## photographs you will use do not have prj files, and are in the Minnesota County Coordinate System for Ramsey County

The CampusNov201x images are in UTM zone 15 NAD83(CORS96) coordinates.

You will create a map of your project areas with one of the image as a background, and your point layes, and an approriate legend, title, and other map elements. Turn this in on Moodle before class next Monday, along with your GPS files and geodatabae or shapefiles.

Monday 10:30 a.m. turn in before the start of class:
Your Larpenteur Avenue 
GPS accuracy report and GPS ssf and cors files, and the NSSDA spreadsheet

CLD\CampusImages contains 15cm resolution USGS aerial photographs


GPS Collection: Efficient Carrier Phase,
Calculate Offsets

Editing: Digitzing Refresher,

Basic Editing, Snapping, Editing tips,
Cut & Split Polygons

Sept 26

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

Data Design

Notes on Topology

Skills - Geodatabase creation, Digitizing - SAP Polygon/topology exercise here, then study area next week

Create a Geodatabase for your project area. Review editing/digitizing in ArcMap if you need to (videos on right, handouts on CLD, old course notes), and begin digitizing the layers listed below for your project area, interpreting features from the CampusNov201x and HiRez06 images.

1) A "Walking Areas" polygon layer of sidewalks, plazas, grassy, forest, and shrub/flower bed areas, basically all non-road, non-building areas in your project area. Attributes for this layer include one named "MATERIAL," specifying asphalt, concrete, natural, or other.

2) A polygon layer of all buildings, with an attribute for the name (text)

3) A point layer of all storm sewer grates. You can start with your work from last week, importing into your geodatabase the points you digitized and GPSed. You need to get a complete inventory of all storm sewer grates in your study area.

4) If you have any, a layer that includes polygons of stormwater ponds, lakes, raingardens, or other infiltration areas, with a text attribute for type.

Topological restrictions are such that layers 1 and 2 must not overlap, and layer 3 must not be contained in 2, and layer 2 and 4 must not overlap

Note that we will use these data later in our analysis for our project area. You should read the Semester Project Description, and make sure that the data can will be useful for this work, that is, that you don't collect in a manner than you'll have to recollect later.  We'll also have to coordinate on a standard geodatabase for all the class, so you should think about this now, while collecting data. It is better if you develop the standard after thinking about and working in your area a bit.

Begin digitizing this week, making sure to assign all attributes required for the three layers. Turn in your geodatabase template on Wednesday at the start of class. Don't worry that you don't have all the data digitized, this is just to ensure that you've created the geodatabase and started digitizing.

Monday10:30 a.m. before the start of class, turn in

  • your pdf map,
  • completed GPS data for your pole and stormwater grate data (ssf, cors), and
  • shape or geodatabase files


-Topology concepts
Create topology,
-Applying topology, identifying topological errors,
-Correcting errors example 1,
-Fixing topological errors example 2

Oct 3

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Advanced Editing -
Topology & other data

Editing admonition

Complete Mapping

Complete digitizing your sample area, and verify and fix topology, keeping the pole/sign locations logically consistent across layers as described in the previous exercise on GPS/image data collection.

Print a map showing your data layer, and display the topology for the buildings and walking areas, such that is shows your "clean" topology. That is, run the topology check, and display the results in a map you print.

before the start of class, turn a geodatabase that contains progress to date of your Walking areas/buildings/poles Geodatabase


Oct 10

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

Data Dictionary

Weekly Slides

Drone Pre-Demo

Drone Post-Demo

Skills - Data Dictionary Exercise

Modern GIS data collection includes electronic logging. This week you'll build electronic forms using Trimble software. We'll verify and attribute our field layers using these tools, using Trimble software to collect data and attributes.

Wednesday - Drone Data Collection Demonstration, attendance mandatory

Monday, before class:
Turn in your
  • digitized layers for your project area, and
  • appropriate map(s) displaying the layers

Files in CLD\Skills\DataDictionary

Video intro for Data Dictionaries

Oct 17

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

LiDAR - Point cloud
reclassify & use 

LiDAR Intro

Skills - Introduction to LiDAR Exercise

LiDAR reclassification and height calculation for your project area

Monday, before class,
turn in

  • data dictionary files,
  • geodatabase or shape files, and
  • a map of your verified data layers.


Oct 24 - Project Work

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Develop Geodatabase

Begin Project Data Development - Overall Project Description

This week's tasks requires you develop a standard geodatabase template for your semester project, and a flowchart on how you expect to do the analysis. Re-read the project description aove, and then complete the Standard Geodatabase and Flowcharting exercise. This is due the week after next, but don't put it off, it will take quite a bit of thought to complete the flowchart.

You've already developed much of your data, but most, if not all of the remaining date can be created from the high-resolution LiDAR DEMs,  from Campus Photos found in the ESPM4295W directory, or from data files provided by University Facilities Mangement. These include the 2006 USGS images in the \Skills\CampusImages\HiRez_## directory that you used earlier in data development, and the  \Project\Base_Image(s)\CampusNov2015.img and associated files, a ultra hi resolution set taken by drone last year. 

Backup date for drone data collection, attendance mandatory if we can't collect the first scheduled week.

Monday, before class:
turn in two maps from LiDAR assignment


Video: Using to create a flowchart

Oct 31

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Proposed Template Geodatabase & Analysis Flowchart

Week's Slides

Monday in Class - we'll discuss the overall project description, strategies, geodatabase template. 
Begin/continue work on 1) flowchart of analysis, and 2) standardized geodatabase template. Layers you developed earlier in the semester will form the basis of your analysis, as well as new data derived from campus DEMs, aerial photographs, and soils data you'll download.  You need to think about organizing the data to meet the analysis requirements (a geodatabase template), and the spatial operations and order in which they'll be applied (represented by a flowchart). 

You'll turn both a flowchart and geodatabase next Monday before class.

We'll discuss templates in class next Monday, select a template and distribute it by Wednesday. You then need to transfer your data into this template, so that we may merge all your data sets together at the end of the semester.

Monday, before class:
Turn in your LiDAR Assignment

Make your analysis easier: Add a custom toolbox in ArcMap

1) DEM fill, sinks, flow direction, flow accumulation
2) Snap pour points (grates), Watersheds

Nov 7

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources

Data Design - GeoDatabase

Submit 1) flowchart of analysis, and 2) a filled, standardized geodatabase template. It will be populated by the layers you have already developed earlier in the semester, and place holders for data you'll develop.

The standard geodatabase should include at least the following completed data layers, clipped for your study area:
1) buidlings (polygon), 2) walkable areas (polygons), with surface attributes (pervious/impervious), 3) storm sewer grates (point layer), 4) 1m LiDAR DEM, 5) A vegetation canopy raster layer, with vegetation height above the ground in meters as the raster value. This last layer is derived from a combination of the LiDAR data you processed, and visual inspection/editing from the aerial photographs.

The geodatabase should also include at least the following empty or partially-filled layers: 1) watershed boundaries corresponding to each stormwater grate in your study area, and to areas that don't drain to grates, 2) soils data that you will download, 3) underground stormsewer pipelines connecting grates, 4) an "rainfall absorption" layer, that shows the current surface absorption, in inches, for the surface of your project area.

You should also include placeholders for your four "recommendation layers,"  i and ii) proposed new vegetation height and walkable area layers (after landscape modification) for your reduction to zero of a 1/4" storm, iii and iv) proposed new vegetation height and walkable area layers (after landscape modification) for your reduction to zero of a 1" storm. These last 

Note that you will be graded on both the geodatabase and the flowchart, considering the detail and completeness.

Week's : Soils data download

-Final output table requirements

-Project data output requirements

Monday, start of class: turn in flowchart, template geodatabase 

Example flowchart

Flowchart description


Storm Sewer Catch Basins and lines, file for download here

The archive contains a point file of catch basins, and lines that connect them.

You'll need to subset the catch basins to identify storm sewer inlets, some are manholes, and not drains.   Display the point layer on top of the 2015 campus image, delete non-inlets, and move to "correct" locations. You should field-check your grates.

Extra credit exercise for 4295, do the ModelBuilder exercise that is mandatory for 5295 students:

Batch file description, and ModelBuilder description and assignment

Nov 14

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Processing, project work, writing

We'll discuss Report Draft 1 - Introduction, Methods, and Overview figures

Overview of conditioning your DEM, flow direction, flow accumulation, and pourpoints 

This was covered in FNRM3131/5131, taken by most folks in this course, so we won't provide specific instructions. There are three files that cover the steps, one an excerpt from the FNRM3131/5131 lab on this, and the other two reports from past student technical assignments, in which they described processing steps.

You might want to run the SINK function in the ArcToolbox->Spatial Analyst->Hydrology tools in ArcMap. This will show the general extent of sinks, and you may then use the inquire cursor over the sink regions to identify the depth of most sinks. This will be useful in setting the depth for the fill process.

Monday, before class:
Turn in your downloaded soils data, clipped for your study area

Excerpt from Hydro Processing lab in 3131/5131

Nov 21

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Processing, project work, writing

Complete all data development,  (including topology/data sources) and be starting the first stage of your analysis.

Turn in report draft 1. The report draft should be a first truncated, edited draft of your final report on your semester-long project. The report will describe the background, goals, data, methods, analysis, and results of your rainfall-runoff analysis for your study area. This draft should include the introduction, a description of your data and how you developed it, and an initial description of the analysis you applied (based on your flowchart). 

Assume you are a technical consultant for an environmental assessment contractor, your audiance is the St. Paul Water District, and they're trying to assess current runoff and manage future runoff. Assume they know in general about the University and something about GIS, but they aren't experts in either. Don't assume they know what ArcGIS is, or they know what a snap tolerance is, or that they know any of the specific commands in ArcGIS.  The introduction should include a general description of the problem, the general physical area, what you are assessing, and the goals.  The Data section should succinctly describe your data, why you need it, and how you developed it, including enough information so that the reader can judge the quality of the data.

You should have maps that display all of your input data layers in the data section. This includes the vegetation canopy data. You don't need separate maps for each layer, e.g., you can put the buildings, walkable areas, and sewer grates on the same maps, but don't overly clutter the maps by putting all input layers on one or two maps. The watershed boundary layers do not have to be in this section, they can be, or in the analysis section (which you're not writing now).

You introduction and data sections should be fairly complete.  That means they should fully describe the problem, area, goals, and data development. Your analysis description can be incomplete, but you should have a start, and at least a flowchart completed.

Writing is an iterative process. You improve your writing through each successive draft. Because of time committments, many students turn in first drafts, and it shows.  

For this assignment, You should turn in three files, containing three successive drafts.

Identify them by a filename ending in 1a, 1b, or 1c, e.g., pvb_draft_1a.docx, pvb_draft_1b.docx, pvb_draft_1c.docx. Draft 1a is your initial attempt, draft 1b is edited by you for major content and organization, and draft 1c is also for content, but also focuses specifically on clear, correct, and concise writing.   

Turn in the native file format (e.g., docx for MSWord), so that I may view the tracked changes. If you use MSWord or Apple Pages, make sure to turn track changes on between drafts. I will use track changes to aid in grading. If you don't use track changes, it will reduce your grade substantially. If you use another word processing software, please contact me so we can arrange draft review. 

Wednesday, by the end of the day:
Turn in your first report draft

Nov 28 - Analysis

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources


Turn in a complete Geodatabase with hydrologic conditioned layers, including flow direction and accumulation, sub-watersheds and snapped grate pour points, as well as the base layers (buildings, canopy, walkable areas, etc.).

Work on Report Draft 2 - this should include a revision/improvements of the introduction and data/methods sections including all figures for those sections, a completed, polished section describing your analysis methods for your project, including a graphic of your flowchart, and at least an outline of your results and conclusions. Next Monday, before class, you should turn in a first draft and a revised version, named ???_draft2a and ???_draft2b, where ??? are your name or initials.

Monday before class, turn in geodatabase progress - Note, DON"T TURN it in on MOODLE. Copy it to the 4295Share\Z_AlmostThere\yourname subirectory (you create the "yourname")  

Dec 5

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources


Monday, before class:
Turn in your second report draft

Dec 12

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Analysis Work on final analysis and final report    

Dec 19

Topic Assignments Deadline Resources
Finals Week - No Class No class final; all assignments due by Wednesday, December 21, 1:30 pm

Wednesday Dec 21, by 1:30 p.m., turn in your final report, via Moodle, and your copy your final data to the 4295Share\Z_FinalData\yourname subdirectory